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Christine Sarkis, SmarterTravel.com
Following near destruction during World War II, this Polish city spent the following decades trying to rebuild and embrace its German, Jewish and Polish heritage. In 2016, Wroclaw is designated as the 30th annual European Capital of Culture, along with San Sebastian, Spain. Throughout the new year, Wroclaw will be one of Europe’s top cultural centers with an extensive amount of events to enjoy. Such forms of entertainment will include festivals, concerts, conferences and other art and cultural activities including Voices of the Excluded, a pairing of opera stars and marginalized communities. While the city’s rich history will be celebrated, Wroclaw seems like an especially relevant choice for the 2016 title given the current refugee crisis in Europe.
2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Due to its important role in American history, Philadelphia was recently named as the first UNESCO World Heritage City in the United States. One prominent attraction to visit includes the One Liberty Observation Deck which offers incredible panoramic views of the city. Other notable points of interest are The Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art because they will display famous international art exhibitions throughout the year. Recently named as the best North American city for live music, be sure to check out one of the many live music options. Philadelphia will host the Democratic National Convention and the 200th anniversary of the African American Episcopal Church in Summer 2016.
If you are an athletics enthusiast, mark down Brazil as one of your top destinations for 2016. Brazil will host 10,500 athletes and around 500,000 spectators and staff for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. To prepare for this incredible event, the city is building a new subway line and express bus routes, and 10,000 taxi drivers are taking English classes. During the games, travelers will have 20,000 affordable accommodation options via Airbnb. Purchase tickets to the actual events through U.S. company CoSport. Plus, to make life even easier, Brazil is not requiring tourist visas during the Olympic and Paralympic games.
4. America’s National Parks
The National Park Service will be celebrating its 100th birthday on August 25, 2016, but will be celebrating all year long with various events throughout the United States. The scenery and majesty of the National Parks does not disappoint, no matter when you visit. Stargaze at Joshua Tree National Park, experience the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, explore pueblos over one thousand years old at Canyon de Chelly National Monument or sled on perfect white sand dunes at White Sands National Monument. Celebrate this wonderful occasion by traveling to any of these breathtaking national parks, you won’t be disappointed!
Until 2011, Ethical travelers would not travel to Myanmar, formerly Burma, because of an unofficial tourism ban that was then lifted by the country’s most famous resident and political leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. After its’ first general election post half a century of military rule, Myanmar is becoming a great tourist destination. This Southeast Asian nation borders India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand and is home to more than 100 ethnic groups. Visit vibrant markets and one of the many parks and lakes in 2016 for the most authentic experience before crowds of tourists travel to Myanmar.
Hawaii vacations are always a popular trip to take. Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will be celebrating the National Park centennial in 2016. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Aloha Fridays tradition, an islands-wide celebration of the native Hawaiian shirt. These two events mean new hotels, restaurants and other openings to accommodate the influx of tourists. Virgin America launches its first Hawaiian route with service from San Francisco in late 2015. Delta announces a new route from Minneapolis, too–meaning Midwesterners can easily escape to this tropical paradise.
7. San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian, Spain shares the title of European Capital of Culture with Wroclaw, Poland in 2016. The Spanish city will focus on the theme of coexistence and show how we can use culture to better live harmoniously. In 2016, San Sebastian will host more than 400 cultural events such as a large, multilingual production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the summer solstice and an exhibition on peace throughout history. This northeastern city in Spain is certainly a place to keep in mind while traveling in 2016.
8. Valdivia, Chile
Valdivia holds the honor of the American Capital of Culture title, the younger counterpart of the European Capital of Culture. Valdivia has both Spanish and German heritage and, surrounded by lush rainforest, is considered one of the most beautiful places in all of Chile and South America as a whole. To celebrate the American Capital of Culture, there will be cultural, musical, theatrical and artistic performances and activities as well as sports competitions and literature events.
This may be surprising travel news, but Cuba is believed to be a top destination in 2016. Yes, Cuba…still. As more American companies familiarize themselves with the laws of visiting Cuba, they become more creative with tours and trips to this new tourist destination. The easiest way to visit is on a person-to-person tour, of which there are a wide variety including scuba diving, cycling and cruising. 2016 is perceived to be the year when people will really start visiting Cuba in unique ways, so join the party and plan your trip.
Germany celebrates 500 years of the German Beer Purity law known as “Reingeitsgebot” in 2016 with festivals and exhibitions. Delta, Lufthansa and Condor will launch new routes to travel from the U.S. to Germany this year which will make it easier than ever to get there. 2016 is also the 800th birthday of Dresden’s Kreuz Choir.
11. Ljubljana, Slovenia
If you are interested in traveling to an environmentally focused destination, definitely research Europe’s Ljubljana, Slovenia. Over the past decade, Ljubljana has developed extensive pedestrian/cycling networks and top-tier public transportation, hoping to be less car-centric and more environmentally friendly. Preserving green space and reducing waste is important–they plan to be zero-waste by 2025. All of this work towards a more sustainable future has paid off as Ljubljana is the 2016 European Green Capital.
12. Los Cabos, Mexico
In 2016, Los Cabos is finally recovering from 2014’s devastating Hurricane Odile. Many hotels are reopening and there are even some new hotels launching this year. This Mexican paradise is also welcoming many new flights in the coming year so keep this destination in mind while planning your next vacation.
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